NEWS

In Brief

HEALTH PLEDGES

Minister promises thousands more staff in hospitals before elections The government will hire at least 18,000 permanent members of hospital staff before the end of this term in office, according to statements by Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis published yesterday. He also told Hora newspaper that a tender would be launched in September for the construction of three new hospitals, one of which will have 700 beds and is to be built in Athens. He also reiterated plans to automatically make everyone in the country a potential organ donor unless they submit a request to the contrary in writing. THIRSTY ISLAND Tons of water taken to Aegina Two navy ships ferried a total 1,600 tons of fresh water to the Saronic island of Aegina over the weekend to help relieve a shortage at the popular holiday destination. The Defense Ministry said it was responding to an appeal by local authorities when, for undisclosed reasons, commercial water transport tankers were unable to deliver. Olympia games Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos yesterday hailed a decision by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to hold an annual athletics competition at Ancient Olympia as a vindication of «the concerted efforts to build on the tangible and intangible inheritance» of last year’s Athens Olympics. The IAAF said on Friday the first competition would be held in May next year. The events will probably be restricted to the shot put, discus and hammer throw due to possible damage to the protected site. The men’s and women’s shot-put competitions were staged at Ancient Olympia during last year’s Games. Laconia blaze A fire that destroyed about 20 hectares of forest near Itylo, Laconia (in the Mani region), was brought under control Saturday morning. A helicopter aided the 40 firemen and two army units who battled the blaze that broke out on Friday and was fanned by high winds. Attica fire Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis suggested in comments published yesterday that authorities are progressing well with investigations into locating the suspected arsonists behind the recent fire in eastern Attica. «I would like to believe that we have a fairly good picture,» he told Sunday’s To Vima newspaper Ship alert Two Israeli cruise liners diverted to the port of Limassol (photo) because of a security alert on Friday were due to leave the island on Saturday, Cypriot authorities said. Cypriot Coast Guard chief Antonis Shakallis said extra security measures had been taken on land and around the coastline while the two ships docked off the island. On Friday Israel ordered cruise ships headed for Turkey with 3,500 Israeli passengers to change course to other ports due to a specific security threat. (Reuters) Yacht aground Patras coast guard had to tow a Canadian-flagged yacht to safety and rescue the four passengers aboard on Saturday, the Merchant Marine Ministry said yesterday. The Sonika ran aground in the area of Akra Drepanou but nobody on board was injured. Cyprus manhunt Cypriot police said Sunday they want to question two Syrian men in connection with the murder of a compatriot whose badly beaten body was found at the bottom of a ravine. The body of Ahmad Jouda Kasas, 69, was found partially buried at a deserted spot outside the southern town of Limassol on Friday. Police said they want to question two Syrian men in their 20s, Salman and Tamam, in connection with the case of what they called «cold-blooded murder.» Investigators believe the death may be linked to a people-trafficking gang as the victim was to deliver a plane ticket to a group of Syrians and had $15,000 in cash on him which has since disappeared. (AFP)